Boat Nausts

Walking around the shores of Papay one can see a number of these boat shelters cut into the dunes.  The lack of any natural harbour here meant that the fishing boats had to be dragged out of the water and well above the high tide line after every trip.  Of the 17 known sites round the coast, some date from Viking times while the most recent were built in the early 20th century.  The best examples are at Nouster, where there are four large 19th century nausts, lined with stone walling and well preserved, and at Backaskaill where the iron winches still stand above them.  There is also an unusual group at Cott, where the nausts have been formed by setting large flagstones on edge.  The number of nausts indicates the former importance of fishing here – iin 1870 there were 254 boats on the island.